Daily Express

Undisputed King of TV talk shows

- Larry King

WITH his friendly interviewi­ng style, easy on the ears Brooklyn drawl and feline-like curiosity Larry King was a talk show host global superstar who could attract 170 million people worldwide to tune into CNN.

Kings, presidents, prime ministers, Hollywood stars and brilliant authors made him their man of choice for groundbrea­king big interviews.

Marlon Brando chose King for his first interview in 20 years but he could also persuade adversarie­s to come together, including Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and senior Ulster Unionist Ken Maginnis in 1994.

One knack he had was showing empathy for the frailties and stupidity of some of his guests, possibly because his own life was chequered with high and lows, multiple marriages, bankruptcy and constant criticism that he gave his guests too easy a ride. Even though he described himself as an infotainer and not an interrogat­ing journalist, the brickbats still flew.

Born Lawrence Zeiger in New York, his Belarusian immigrant bar owning father died when he was aged nine, which meant growing up in real poverty in an attic.

Seeing little chance of getting anywhere in the Big Apple, he took a bus ride to Miami, where he picked up work cleaning floors at a radio station. When a DJ left he convinced bosses he was good enough to take his place, later changing his surname to the more memorable King.

As well as a column in the Miami Herald newspaper he switched radio stations and was soon earning up to $100,000 a year.

But in 1971 he was charged with stealing $5,000 from a business colleague and although the charges were dropped, he was taken off air for a while until the dust settled.

By 1978 an all-night talk show was being aired on 28 radio stations, which persuaded CNN to offer him Larry King Live in 1985.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sought him out to promote her memoirs, ex-US President Bill Clinton savoured their friendly encounters and the best-paid Hollywood actors courted his attention.

When he stepped down in 2010 after 25 years he was reportedly earning £6 million a year with his income boosted by books, particular­ly My Remarkable Journey.

Last year he separated from his seventh wife, Shawn Southwick, with whom he had two sons. He is also survived by a son from a previous marriage. A daughter and a son predecease­d him.

 ?? Pictures: ALAMY; ITV; GETTY ?? UNIQUE STYLE: Larry King was an American institutio­n
Pictures: ALAMY; ITV; GETTY UNIQUE STYLE: Larry King was an American institutio­n
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